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CNN exclusive: ICC prosecutor on Darfur charges

  • Story Highlights
  • Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir charged with genocide in Darfur
  • ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo speaks exclusively to CNN about charges
  • He says al-Bashir has absolute control of forces committing war crimes
  • Up to international community to bring him to justice, Moreno-Ocampo says
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(CNN) -- The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court is seeking the arrest of Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on charges of genocide in a five-year campaign of violence in the country's Darfur region. Luis Moreno-Ocampo spoke exclusively to CNN's Nic Robertson ahead of his announcement on Monday of the charges.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo: "Pressure is normal in my job ... I don't care about opinions. I care about my evidence."

Luis Moreno-Ocampo: "Pressure is normal in my job ... I don't care about opinions. I care about my evidence."

Nic Robertson: What exactly are you accusing President Bashir of?

Luis Moreno-Ocampo: We request a warrant for the crime of genocide -- 6a, b and c -- basically massive rapes and the condition of 2.5 million people -- in addition we charged him with crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Q. For genocide though -- attempt to destroy an ethnic group in whole or in part -- which is an intent -- how do you prove intent?

A. The evidence shows that al-Bashir has absolute control of his forces and his forces absolutely target the land of the Fur, the Masalit and the Zaghawa -- 98 percent of the Fur villages were attacked -- so all these people were removed, substantial part of the people in camps are Fur Masalit and Zaghawa -- and al Bashir attacks these people in their lands and in their camps -- he is trying to destroy a substantial part of these groups and that's why it's a genocide. Video Watch as ICC prosecutor targets Sudan leader »

Q. How can you prove it's him -- there are Janjaweed, other forces there?

A. We prove that al-Bashir has absolute control -- he is the president of the country, chairman of national congress party -- commander in chief of the army -- he is the chairman of the secretary council -- he organized personally the Janjaweed militia -- integrate them into the police and the army -- we have evidence of showing that different elements of the janjaweed call him, report to him -- so al-Bashir controls everything in Darfur.

Q. You have his signature on a piece of paper instructing them what to do?

A. No the evidence is different -- it's a puzzle, we are showing a big puzzle -- we have (a) couple of documents proving, a document that the Sudan provided saying the army was following instructions of the president.

Q. And what were those instructions?

A. The instructions in fact were if you have forces inside your soldiers attacking the same people for five years -- against the international community, against everyone -- you believe al-Bashir is not controlling this -- so the intention of al-Bashir are coming from the facts -- the facts show al-Bashir's intention -- if I put a knife in your chest, I have intention to kill you -- the same -- if al Bashir attacks with his army, all these people, he is out to destroy them.

Q. What single piece of evidence is there in your opinion that most strongly points towards genocide?

A. Thousands of documents -- thousands of different types of evidence -- Ahmed Haroun was the minister of interior who coordinated attacks in 2003, 2004. in 2005 he was appointed to manage the camps so Haroun is the connection between attacks in the village and attacks in the camps. Haroun says he was always following Bashir's instructions. And Bashir says Haroun follows his instructions and Bashir say he will never hand over Haroun because he has to follow his instructions. He is confessing to me.

Q. In 2005 the U.N. commission said they didn't find genocide in Darfur -- what's changed?

A. In 2005 the U.N. said something very important -- they say if people are just for this place and protected in this camps there is no genocide. What we are proving now -- with the evidence we collect now -- is the same people are now attacking the camp -- massive rapes. They are raping women, raping girls, raping in groups -- raping to destroy the communities -- rape is a tool in the genocide, the most important tool today.

Q. How is rape a tool in genocide?

A. Attacking the women, destroying the society, the community and also normally rape is under reported -- so al-Bashir is committee a genocide through rapes in front of our eyes and we are saying nothing. In the Rwandan tribunal they have an important decision called Acayesu -- they say rape is a way to destroy the spirit and the life of a group. That is what al-Bashir is doing with these people. Massive rapes.

Q. Do you though have one specific case that you can point to -- one specific case -- that you can say that, there, right there, is genocide?

A. We have been saying in addition to the massive numbers we have been telling individual stories -- stories of women who say for instance we know we are raped when we go looking for the firewood -- so they decide to go in groups -- and they run -- they escape, some of them escape, some of them are raped. And we have stories about families who escape. Then people die because of the conditions that they saw -- we have stories of a father that says my daughter was raped and they were forced to watch when they rape my daughter -- we have these types of stories for each of the cases for each of the groups.

Q. Sudan's representative, ambassador to the U.N. has already said on the strength of this -- that you are playing with fire by going after Sudan's president.

A. I have a responsibility to the security council -- the security council referred the case to me and requested me to investigate. After 3 years I have strong evidence that al Bashir is committing a genocide -- I cannot be blackmailed -- I cannot yield. Silence never helped the victims. Silence helped the perpetrators. The prosecutor should not be silent.

Q. There are aid officials, there are U.N. peacekeepers who are in Darfur right now -- are you concerned for their safety?

A. We are not imposing our case on any peacekeeper -- we are not requesting evidence from them -- any humanitarian assistant -- none of them -- but if al-Bashir's forces are attacking peacekeepers it is another reason to stop him -- yes -- attacking a peacekeeper is a war crime.

Q. Why haven't these charges been brought before -- couldn't they have saved more lives?

A. I never would present my case before I am ready -- one year ago I was ready for Haroun the minister -- I presented a strong case against him -- and after that I went looking for more evidence -- now I present my second case, the evidence shows Bashir. I follow my evidence I cannot be before my evidence.

Q. And what has happened to Haroun subsequently?

A. No that is an interesting piece -- after the judges issued an arrest warrant for Haroun what was happening with Bashir was that Haroun was confirming following his instructions -- so that's an interesting piece -- and also we investigated Haroun when he was minister of interior and after 2005 he was minister for humanitarian affairs -- responsible for the HAC -- the commission who control the camps -- so he is the one managing the camp -- so he was in both main aspects of the genocide -- when they attack the people in their homes and now attacking them in the camps.

Q. But despite indicting Ahmed Haroun he still has not appeared in your courtroom?

A. Of course because the responsiblity to arrest him belongs to al Bashir, and al Bashir in addition has the possibility to offer him impunity -- so that's why confirming his control -- he is not just giving instructions to Haroun he has the ability to protect Haroun and not arrest him -- that's why I had to do Bashir -- because all the others are protected by Bashir.

Q. How can you expect to get President Bashir in your court here?

A. This will need to be a security council resolution that the security council will have to implement.

Q. What will they have to do?

A. Look -- the main responsibility of Sudan itself -- we are not asking for a resolution -- is Sudan has to arrest the person. Normally Sudan reject it, and now the security council has to impose that the Sudan respect the resolution of the court.

Q. What sort of pressures are you feeling already from this announcement?

A. I am doing my work -- and follow my evidence -- no one is trying to stop me -- and no one is pushing me -- I am an independent prosecutor.

Q. But what pressures are you feeling?

A. Pressure is normal in my job (are you saying there are no pressures?) it is normal -- we are working in a glass box, people make opinions but it is not pressure (What opinions are you hearing?) everyone's. I don't care about opinions. I care about my evidence. I am doing legal work here.

Q. What happens now you have presented the papers?

A. Now we request our warrant -- the decision is in the hands of the judges now -- there are three judges -- judge Qunia, from Ghana, judge Stener, from Brazil, judge Usaka from Latvia -- they will decide, they can dismiss my evidence, they can approve my request or they can do something in the middle -- so it is their decision. Normally this take 2-3 months, this case is bigger, maybe take more -- but it is their decision, now they will decide?

Q. So what are the implications going to be for President Bashir, assuming the judges go along with what you are presenting them?

A. It will be another warrant against al-Bashir has to be arrested -- the state parties are forced, have a legal obligation to arrest him -- the rest of the U.N. system -- the security council, have to endeavour to cooperate with the court -- so depends on their own will -- but I think al-Bashir's destiny is a dock in the court.

Q. What do you mean by that?

A. Al-Bashir is indicted by genocide -- if al-Bashir is indicted for genocide his destiny is to face justice -- he has to explain what he did -- he is responsible?

Q. I still don't understand how you can expect to bring him to justice -- he is in command of his own destiny in Sudan, he doesn't have to leave the country?

A. Maybe not in 2 months -- maybe it will take 2 years or 15 years -- this is a permanent court -- the court could wait to do the trial, victims cannot wait, girls raped cannot wait -- they cannot rape more in Darfur -- so time is not in favor of the victims -- the trial could wait.

Q. But if you don't get the man you say is responsible for these crimes and he is still there in Sudan, then the crimes could continue?

A. Yes. My part is to do the investigation and prove the case -- I did it. This is the first step for the victims. Confirm the truth. The victims have the right to the truth. My evidence shows the truth. Then if the judges confirm my views and issue the warrant -- the court does the traditional part. Now it's arrest. The security council has to do their part, establish a system to see how to arrest al Bashir -- and he has to face justice. It is a complicated process but it is the only solution -- I think it is the chance to help these victims. If the world ignores a genocide -- fools have normal hopes but my kids have no more hopes.

Q. I just want to go back to the impact on President Bashir -- let's say the arrest warrant is issued for him -- what are the practical implications going to be for President Bashir?

A. The practical implications ... he has an arrest warrant for genocide -- there are two aspects -- who will arrest him, and if he travels outside he will be arrested. In the meantime there are many citizens in the world that can make their voice loud and say al-Bashir has to be stopped -- so al-Bashir will face the world if the world works together to stop the genocide.

Q. Once President Bashir is indicted does this not hamper any negotiations to try to bring peace in Darfur?

A. We need negotiation but negotiation cannot ignore the truth. The truth is al-Bashir has committed a genocide in Darfur -- it's an ongoing genocide -- that's the point -- you have to negotiate but it's an ongoing genocide -- the first negotiation is to stop, today, the genocide -- that's it.

Q. Are you concerned at all that he will harden his position and things may get worse, may accelerate there?

A. He cannot blackmail the world, al-Bashir cannot blackmail the world -- the world cannot yield, I will not yield, I will do my job -- the security council requested that I investigate the case, I did it and I will keep doing it.

Q. But it's not blackmail -- if there's no one in the world willing to go into the country and pick him up it's not blackmail -- he can continue as he wants.

A. I said blackmail because he could attack people -- yes -- but this is a new world -- we are trying to establish a global community based in law, and that requires commitment so I count on the commitment of the citizens of the world and the governments of the world -- they have to stop al-Bashir's genocide -- it's our responsibility.

Q. What makes you think they will? They haven't so far? And look at the U.N. peacekeeping force that is there right now -- it's a third the size it should be ... no one has stood up to President Bashir yet.

A. Okay look I cannot talk for others -- I will tell you what I will do -- I have a mandate to investigate crimes, I will do it and I will keep doing it.

Q. What I haven't asked you here that I should have asked you -- you know the details far better than I can -- I want to make sure I don't miss anything that you consider very important -- do you have a smoking gun?

A. No -- look -- we investigate the case without receiving intelligence, without questioning journalists, without questioning humanitarian people, U.N. people -- so we find evidence looking for different sources so we have interesting documents, evidence but you have to see the entire picture -- you cannot take a picture of the genocide committed over five years in a region the size of France -- there is no picture of that -- you have to understand the complexity and we have little elements showing the complexity and the consistency of the attacks in each moment. That's what we have.

Q. Do you ever find yourself being frustrated by the situation there -- the part of the international community that are the best witnessed to what is happening in Darfur are essentially compelled to keep quiet about what they see so they can continue to provide humanitarian services to keep people alive?

A. Without humanitarian assistance 2.5 million people will die -- so I cannot exploit that -- that is why I respect absolutely the different work of the humanitarian people -- so I did not request information from them -- I had to bring my case without affecting the humanitarian assistance.

Q. But the implications right now: the Sudanese are clearly upset and angry about the position right now -- there are clearly implications that may threaten the humanitarian work -- this is perhaps Sudan's strongest card.

A. That's the point -- a prosecutor cannot be blackmailed -- I have my evidence showing that girls and women are raped each day -- how many rapes, I have to wait. 20 rapes? 200 rapes? 20,000 rapes. Can I wait? No I cannot wait. No I cannot. Silence will never help the victims. My duty is to investigate and I will do it.

Q. I think I interrupted you before ...

A. Well we can also talk about the Africans. Because this perception in the African Union are worried about this so we can talk about the Africans.

Q. Well I asked before what political pressures you were feeling -- what is the reaction that you are getting from African nations?

A. I think it is important to understand we are working for Africans in this case and with Africans but Afrcia is tired of double standards. Arabs are also tired of double standards. That's why this court is an opportunity to create a real one standard -- stop genocide. That is the chance we have now.

Q. Do you feel you have the support of the African nations?

A. Africa was a leader in the establishment of this court -- today, last Friday my deputy prosecutor was briefing the Peace and Security Council of Africa -- they have different opinions -- but the African union was the first to call to stop the crimes in Darfur so I think the African Union has to find a way to protect people in Darfur.


Q. So are you surprised by their reaction now?

A. Look I am just now presenting my evidence to the judges -- the focus is on my evidence -- the rest is not my responsibility.

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